Coke Appeals to Fashion

Of course, every brand wants to suggest that its product is the rage among trend-setting consumers. But Coca-Cola is doing more than just suggesting that it is fashionable to drink its product; it is linking its brand to the world’s top fashion designers and putting its name on beauty products too.

Last fall Coca-Cola Light and eight renowned Italian fashion designers — Donatella Versace, Alberta Ferretti, Anna Molinari for Blumarine, Veronic Etro, Silvia Venturini for Fendi, Consuelo Castiglioni for Marni, Angela Missoni and Rossella Jardini for Moschino — teamed up to present specially decorated contoured bottles for the opening of Milan Fashion Week. Showcased at a Coca-Cola Light “Tribute to Fashion” runway event, the original bottles were later auctioned by Sotheby’s with proceeds going to aid the victims of the devastating 2009 earthquake in Abruzzo, Italy. Collectible bottles were also produced in limited edition and sold in Europe. Some are even finding their way onto eBay.

An even more unusual tie-in to fashion is Diet Coke’s collaboration with Nails, Inc. in the UK to release four shades of Diet Coke nail polish. Called the Diet Coke City Collection, the polish colors are inspired by the four fashion capitals of London, Paris, New York and Milan. During the month of June, Boots stores in the UK gave the nail polish away free with the purchase of two 500 ml. bottles of Diet Coke. The limited edition Diet Coke nail polish is also being sold through the trendy online fashion store, , for about $15.

Marketing its one-calorie beverages to the fashion-conscious is an interesting approach, for sure, and it says something about how Coca-Cola is refreshing its brand “around the edges” without tampering with the beloved elements of its identity. Coca-Cola is a product where customers absolutely do not welcome “new and improved.” The company tried that once in 1985 when it introduced the reformulated “New Coke.” It unleashed such an angry consumer backlash that a few months later the company retreated back to the old soda formula. Even its signature graphics — the Spencerian Script logotype, contoured bottle shape, bright red color – are sacred to the brand. People love Coke and take comfort in the familiarity of its taste and look. That can make a marketing campaign go flat fast. So special occasion packaging and quirky targeted audience marketing helps to attract a lot of media buzz and excitement, yet allow Coke to reassure loyal customers that the “touchpoints” of its brand identity will always be there for them.